Tuesday, December 30, 2008

ATP Announces NY 2009 Dates, Partial Line-Up

The music festival named for my favorite Velvet Underground song hits the Catskills September 11-13. Flaming Lips are curating, and The Dirty Three are set do perform Ocean Songs in its entirety. At that time of year, it ought to be gorgeous.

Monday, December 29, 2008

At Least Someone's Making Hay

Photo: Jim Wilson/The New York Times

NY Times has an interesting story this morning about skateboarders who've found a way to take advantage of the housing bubble collapse, and, possibly, perform a public service, by draining abandoned swimming pools.

Best quote:“I’m doing the city a favor,” [Josh Peacock] said, by emptying fetid pools. “They’re always talking about West Nile on the news. Those little fish can only eat so much.”

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Dark Knight, Revisited

Last summer, like most people who saw TDK in the movie theatre, I felt justifiably wowed by the production and the intelligence that went into the flick. On second viewing, and on the small screen at that, I find more sympathy for its critics. The nihilism is pretty much unrelenting.

Without the benefit of surprise, the Joker character Heath Ledger and the Nolans put on screen is less fascinating and more loathsome. I still hold my earlier opinion he's too much of a controller to be an "agent of chaos," but it's still one of the best depictions we'll ever see of a dog that needs to be put down.

I have to wonder about all the Oscar talk: after last year's honors for No Country for Old Men, how much of a backlash would there be if Hollywood goes this dark for the second straight year? What does it say about us, as a culture, that our entertainment industry would put so much quality effort - and praise - into products that embrace nihilism to this extent two years straight?

A Late Giftie For You

White Winter Hymnal from Fleet Foxes on Vimeo.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My Other Boyfriend, The Vampire

Here's a vampire movie for the bigger girls and boys. The bloodsucker in Let the Right One In is no vegan, but instead a lonely soul in the body of a 12 year old girl, more or less, who enters the world of the equally lonely Oskar in the cold Swedish night. What follows is a meditation on friendship, loyalty, co-dependency, and what can be accepted - or not - in the natures of our selves and of those closest to us.

It's just been held over - for the second or third time - at the Belcourt and appears to be turning into this year's Pan's Labyrinth.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Here We Go

I think you know what this is about.

You Knew Someone Was Gonna

The Belcourt is hosting an all-day Lord of the Rings fest this Saturday 12/27. What makes it is the accompanying "Middle Earth Meals" getting served up with the flick all day. Belcourt Marketing guru Josh Hayes sat down to talk about it.

Speaking of "squeak, squeak, squeak," the theatre has launched a "Creature Comforts" campaign with the goal of replacing those worn-out seats.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Review: Marley and Me

Directed by David Frankel

Marley and Me strikes me as the first real Gen-X family tearjerker, even if it was based on a Boomer's book. Said Boomer, John Grogan, and his wife put off marriage and children long enough into their relationship they ought to qualify as honorary Gen-Xers, and besides, the first identifiable pop song heard is R.E.M.'s "Shiny Happy People." Finally, the Marley in the title symbolizes all those messy, uncontrollable factors that make so many Gen-Xers so risk averse. Works for me.

If it weren't based on Grogan's memoir, I'd say the dog in Marley and Me was a brilliant device for getting people into a movie about things that one imagines would bore the crap out of today's hip producers and even hipper audiences.

"So this guy, he marries this chick who is totally out of his league, then they move to sunny Florida, where he writes a regular column for the local newspaper, but he wants to be the next Jack Anderson. He gets a little jealous when he sees his single friend get hot women and even hotter stories, but doesn’t get crazy resentful or anything, he just enjoys his family, and tries to be a supportive husband and good dad, good provider. He gets his chance, and they move to Philadelphia where he starts out in hard news, but ends up writing columns again because he’s so good at it. He's got a great family.”

And it's all really, really, true.

Zzzzzzzzzz ....

But wait! We can get Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston ...

Zzzzzzzzzz ....

But wait! There's this crazy, unpredictable, cute stunt dog!


Center the story around that dog and his hijinks, and how he intrinsically affects the family that surrounds him, and the snoozer turns into a thoroughly enjoyable feel-good movie more than capable of keeping viewers awake in their seats.

We never meet or even hear Grogan’s parents spoken of. Instead, he's mentored by his editor. In between handing out assignments, Alan Arkin gives Owen Wilson all the practical advice on family and relationships that 1960s parents rejected in favor of “do your own thing,” and some of it turns out to be pretty good.

To get some idea of the real Marley, check out the first 30 seconds of this YouTube video:

He was truly a monster of a dog, and the animals that stood in for Marley, in this film, deserves an Oscar every bit as much as that horse in Cat Ballou.

Wilson and Aniston are well cast and have terrific chemistry. I had no trouble believing in them as a couple. Kathleen Turner shows up in a cameo that’s shocking if you were unaware of the Body Heat actress’s health issues and refusal to be a typical Hollywood actress and go under the knife at 53. She looks ... like a normal person. And somehow, that's perfect because at it's heart, Marley and Me is about how normalcy is something you obtain by accepting and dealing with uncontrollable messes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nice Life

File under: photos I wish I'd taken.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

You Can Poke Someone's Eye Out With That

This morning I made mention on the air of all the creative editing that's come as a result of video of that Iraqi reporter who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush. Here's the latest one, sent on by listener Matthew:

Monday, December 15, 2008

New Nutcracker: Ooh, Pretty

I went over the weekend and caught the Nashville Ballet's new production and my overall impression is that it's absolutely gorgeous. The dancing was, of course, great and Paul Vasterling's sultry choreography really shined on the Arabian dance. Equally dazzling, though, are the new sets. Just about every transition to a new scene was accompanied by audience "oohs" and "ahs," and "ow, wows." The overall impact was a moving visual feast and riot of color.

Speaking of Mr. V., here's the unedited interview audio from last week's chat.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Lists, Lists, Lists II

And this one is of the Golden Globe Awards nominees. Looking over the noms for the movies makes me feel ancient: only Burn After Reading, WALL-E, and In Bruges, of all these, ever struck me as movies I gotta, gotta to see. Everything else looked like an obligation.

Slumdog Millionaire
The Reader
Revolutionary Road
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Burn After Reading
In Bruges
Mamma Mia
Vicky Christina Barcelona


Kate Winslet – Revolutionary Road
Meryl Streep – Doubt
Kristin Scott Thomas – I've Loved You So Long
Angelina Jolie – Changeling
Anne Hathaway – Rachel Getting Married


Mickey Rourke – The Wrestler
Sean Penn – Milk
Leonardo DiCaprio – Revolutionary Road
Brad Pitt – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Frank Langella – Frost/Nixon


Rebecca Hall – Vicky Christina Barcelona
Meryl Streep – Mamma Mia!
Sally Hawkins – Happy-Go-Lucky
Emma Thompson – Last Chance Harvey
Frances McDormand – Burn After Reading


Javier Bardem – Vicky Christina Barcelona
Colin Farrell – In Bruges
Brendan Gleeson – In Bruges
Dustin Hoffman – Last Chance Harvey
James Franco – The Pineapple Express


Kate Winslet – The Reader
Penelope Cruz – Vicky Christine Barcelona
Viola Davis – Doubt
Marisa Tomei – The Wrestler
Amy Adams – Doubt


Heath Ledger – The Dark Knight
Robert Downey, Jr. – Tropic Thunder
Phillip Seymour Hoffman – Doubt
Tom Cruise – Tropic Thunder
Ralph Fiennes – The Duchess


Danny Boyle – Slumdog Millionaire
David Fincher – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Ron Howard – Frost/Nixon
Stephen Daldrey – The Reader
Sam Mendes – Revolutionary Road





Mad Men
In Treatment
True Blood

The Office
30 Rock

...blah blah blah.

Lists, Lists, Lists I

I think I just fell in love with blogger Perez Hilton for calling top albums lists "wankery." Rolling Stone just published theirs for 2008.

1. TV on the Radio: Dear Science
2. Bob Dylan: Tell Tale Signs — The Bootleg Series Vol. 8
3. Lil Wayne: Tha Carter III
4. My Morning Jacket: Evil Urges
5. John Mellencamp: Life, Death, Love and Freedom
6. Santogold: Santogold
7. Coldplay: Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends
8. Beck: Modern Guilt
9. Metallica: Death Magnetic
10. Vampire Weekend: Vampire Weekend

I mentioned the list on the air this morning and added that what looked like my favorite album this year didn't make it on there. Forgot to say what it was:

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Self Returning?

Like most pop geniuses, Matt Mahaffey's a busy guy. In addition to his Wired All Wrong work (with Jeff Turzo from God Lives Underwater), and playing in Beck's band, MySpace and SeLf-Centered watchers have lately been treated to two new Self tunes. One of them, "Monogamy" is pure cane-sugary pop bliss. This is fantastic news, since Mahaffey and his fans got shafted a few years ago when Dreamworks shelved Ornament and Crime. Hints on the Self Centered message board indicate there's more news coming. In the meantime, enjoy:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Heads Up - The Golden Sounds

"Todd Evans and whoever is available at the time" in his dream-pop collective make a rare live appearance this Saturday night at the Family Wash in East Nashville. If I could stay up past 9pm, I'd be there. Why can't a few good bands play at a brunch or something, sometime?

Sound: Elizabeth mp3

Friday, December 5, 2008

... And As Far As Grammys Go

Do you notice?


Adele -- "Chasing Pavements"
Coldplay -- "Viva la Vida"
Leona Lewis -- "Bleeding Love"
M.I.A. -- "Paper Planes"
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss -- "Please Read the Letter"

Out of the five noms, there's only one (US) American in the bunch. What I think is up with that? The US music and radio scene has become so over-niched into identity groups that any kind of good new idea gets strangled out of the gate. I also think it's interesting that the Plant/Krauss collaboration is the only one of these that doesn't owe anything to a long past era (although I admit to admiring what M.I.A. did with that Clash sample very, very much and wouldn't mind in the least if it won).

Coldplay Accused of Plagiarism: Joe Satriani

Looks like they won't be getting that Record of the Year Grammy.

MSNBC reports today:

Satriani's copyright infringement suit, filed Thursday in Los Angeles federal court, claims the Coldplay song "Viva La Vida" incorporates "substantial original portions" of his 2004 instrumental "If I Could Fly."

Interesting to note the video was posted some eight or nine weeks ago, specifically to point out the similarity between Joe's riff and the "Viva" chorus. I think it's a pretty minor and will be hard to prove.

Sidenote: YouTube's new screen ratio is annoying for anything that's not a movie trailer, you know?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Skinny On Nashville Ballet's New Nutcracker

I just spoke with Nashville Ballet's artistic director Paul Vasterling about the all-new version of The Nutcracker being unveiled next Dec. 12. It sounds like it's going to have a strong emphasis on the visual aspects, beyond pirouettes, and it's also going to be very Nash-centric. The interview will air next week, starting on Wednesday, and there will probably be two versions: the on-air edit, and the uncut web version.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Speaking of Baz and Oz

According to the Internet Movie Database, he's signed on to direct Wicked. I'm delighted he'll be doing it, but as the screenplay is being written by Winnie Holzman, who did the musical book, apprehensive we'll get the shiny, happy, vision instead of the intense Elphaba who fueled Gregory Maguire's novel.

Oz Down Under

Brandon Walters, Nicole Kidman.
Australia dir. Baz Luhrmann

“The only thing you own is a story. Better make it a good one.” - The Drover

“I’ve been to five continents and Australia has, by far, the most self-overrated, racist sots I’ve seen anywhere.” - ShatterEarth, aka Si

  Every great society has a kick-ass founders’ myth. Romulus and Remus. Rhea and Gaia and Zeus and Cronos. Abraham. Muhammad. 1066. 1776. Qin Shi Huang.

  Australia was founded as a penal colony for the UK after they could no longer drop their rejects off in America. The first convicts were such assholes that, if the History Channel is to be believed, the occupants on the first boat of women to be dropped off were all raped. With a founding story like that, who wouldn't want to make up their own? Better yet, hire a locally renowned movie director to invent one for you.

  Baz Luhrmann chose to skip over his home’s early colonization and hop straight to the cusp of modern Australia, setting his story in 1939 and running it through to bombing of Darwin, when its white inhabitants were still just superior enough to be practicing cultural genocide on “stolen generations” of mixed race Aboriginal children. They were forcibly taken from their homes and placed in institutions.

  It’s a good place to open this new legend. When Nicole Kidman, as ranger-wife (and soon to be widow) Lady Sarah Ashley, drops into Luhrmann’s brown and dusty world occupied by brown and dusty people, a riot of pastels trails into it with her. No matter how hot and parched and brown the land gets, pinks, baby blues and lavender are never long away when Kidman’s in a shot.

  Lady Sarah and Hugh Jackman’s character, The Drover (he is referred to by his job title throughout the film), must steer 1,500 cattle across the range and sell to the military in order to save the family ranch. With them are assorted ranch hands and a young mixed-race Aboriginal boy named Nullah. Nullah needs the shelter from authorities Lady Sarah (whom he calls "Mrs. Boss") provides, yet longs for a traditional walkabout with his shaman grandfather. Against them are the boy’s treacherous father, played by Moulin Rouge and LotR alum David Wenham, and competing rancher Bryan Brown.

  Completing the cattle drive constitutes the first act, where most of Australia’s humor lives. Act II is all about securing what was gained. Like Nullah, Drover wants to roam freely on the land but he, too, wants to have Mrs. Boss to come home to.

  While the basic premise doesn’t steer too far from your average polished-woman-falls-for-tough-but-tender-roustabout-in-the-midst-of-a-great-and-trying-quest epic formula, Out of Africa it ain't. It's more African Queen. Until the final act, when things take a turn for the serious, it may be epic but it’s still a Baz Luhrmann film with screwier-than-life characters (albeit toned down from the usual Baz), look-at-this! frolicking camera shots, unlikely coincidences, and delightful resource thieving that never takes itself so seriously you want to club someone.

  Australia runs 165 minutes and although there were a couple of instances I wondered how long it was going to turn out to be, the editing is tight enough that at no time did I find myself wishing it would hurry along. I don't know if Australia will become the tourist poster its home country hopes it will be, but it easily makes a great pitch for giving Baz Luhrmann a real budget.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Speaking of Ugly ...

WTF is up with this?
Kidman is one of those women who turns other women off. And no, not just because she's pretty and we're jealous. It is because we perceive, and men don't, that she's one of the most overrated actors in the world, a woman who has been the kiss of death in practically every movie she has starred in.
When I was at WQBK-FM in Albany, NY, Jo Carenza and I used to joke that we were going to start a new gender because of consultants who said we had to play Journey and Foreigner to appeal to female listeners. So, maybe it's just me, but what a bizarre pronouncement. I don't think I've heard very many men approach rapture when they speak or write of Kidman's acting skills. I think most men see her as someone who's there to bring on the pretty, and most women do too, and appreciate that someone who is hired to bring the pretty can do it interestingly, without presenting our gender as an airhead. Most of the movies she's in that are cold or lukewarm at the box office aren't exactly in the Jerry Bruckheimer league, you know? Dogville? Like anyone ever expected that was going to land in the top 10 some Monday morning?

Anyway, I'm going to try to catch Australia this afternoon. If I do, check back tonight or tomorrow morning for a review.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Boyfriend, The Vampire I

Twilight directed by Catherine Hardwicke. 122 minutes.

  There's an old wisecrack, goes like this:

She: Let's share our fantasies
He: Let's not. Your fantasies would bore me; mine would shock you.

   I'm not a he, but novelist Stephenie Meyer's fantasy still bores me. Thankfully, director Catherine Hardwicke gives Twilight enough visual style and bang to cover up what's not there.

   Lovers Bella and Edward enter Twilight isolated from most of their world. Bella, because she’s recently moved in with a father she barely knows and Edward because, well, he’s just not like everyone else. He’s a vampire, one of a new breed that manages to co-exist with humans by instead killing Bambi.

   Edward explains at one point he’s attracted to Bella because the smell of her blood drives him crazy; it's never stated, but safe to guess Bella is attracted to Edward because Edward automatically senses when Bella’s in danger and rushes in for the rescue whereas the best thing her father, the town police chief, can (is allowed to?) manage is handing Bella a can of pepper spray as she's on her way out the door.

   The tradition of vampire myth as metaphor for sex in times of repression** hits blunt: Can Edward control his urge to feed? When the opportunity presents itself to get a few licks, will Edward (like True Blood's vampire "Bill") be able to pull out in time? Talking fangs, of course.

   Although there’s at least some subtext, there’s little in the way of subplot. There’s little in the way of plot, period - the bulk of the movie is taken up by the teen romance, which many more mature viewers will recognize not as a teen romance but non-threatening teen fantasy. It doesn’t take long at all for Edward to be exposed as a vampire, there’s pretty much nil drama there. Will the bad vampires, the “non-vegans” as Edward’s adopted family would call them, get to Bella and do what non-vegan vampires do?

   Visually Twilight is striking, with a color palette heavy on washed out blues. It's filled with gorgeous Oregon and Washington State scenery and action that takes advantage of it. The actors are adequate and effective; I thought the supporting teens came across as normal, a little nerdy, and their easy-going nature both framed and contrasted with the two main players. Both Robert Pattinson's Edward and Kristen Stewart's Bella remain uncomfortable and jittery throughout the movie; Stewart crosses into twitchiness at times and it seems, in retrospect, to be as much a stylistic choice as an acting decision. I suppose all the twitching is intended to depict sexual tension, but really it just looks like they need more fiber in their diets.

   I haven't read any of the novels in the Twilight series, have no idea how much time is going to move, but can only assume the novels will allow Bella to graduate high school. Pattinson ("Cedric" from the Harry Potter movies) is obviously past his teens and at 18, Stewart is pushing her credibility as a Junior classman. Hopefully, like Pattinson's the other teen monster series, Twilight will improve with age and experience.

Bottom lines:

What's good: visual style, cinematography, Pacific northwest location shots, the supporting teen players, pretty people.

What's not: teen fantasy wish fulfillment. This is the stuff your creative writing instructor spends 3-12 months telling you to avoid like the plague.

Why it doesn’t matter: the teen female demo has been so neglected, for so long, that anything of semi-decent quality that appeals to girls is going to be a smash. There are four other installments in the series - get used to it.

**now that we have YouPorn, is it any wonder vampires are so much friendlier than they used to be?

Ugly Is as Ugly Does

Florida's Sun Sentinal decided to go People and GQ one better, like Maxim, and publish an "UnSexy" celebrity list. Their suspects: Amy Winehouse, Donatella Versace, Sarah Jessica Parker, Margaret Cho, Andy Dick, etc., etc.

I can only assume the list was put together by Sun Sentinal writers and editors (none are named) who will not be railing against the physical perfection industry anytime soon.

Most of the people on this paper's UnSexy list are not only famous and/or rich, but they're also extremely talented. It's interesting, how we go glazy-eyed and slobber over celebrities who obtain their success, in part, by appearance-based genetics we can never imitate (not without going under the knife, anyway) and then turn around and throw knives at people who obtain their fame and fortune in spite of looking, more or less, like the rest of us. It says so much more about us than it does the target.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I'm talking to Laurel to see if we can get a Team Green trip for this! So what if it's totally illegal ...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It’s a Man’s, Man’s, Man’s, Man’s World

Ralph Fiennes, Keira Knightly, Hayley Atwell
Directed by Saul Dibb; 110 minutes

The Duchess

The Duchess is a bio-pic based on the heavily lauded 1998 Amanda Foreman book, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. Georgiana was the “it” girl of her day: gorgeous, rich, vibrant, rich, politically involved, and very, very rich. She was a Spencer, and married to William Cavendish, 5th Duke of Devonshire.

The Duchess doesn’t seem entirely sure what it wants to be and say. It’s not solidly romantic (or downer, as they often are) enough to be a costume/bedroom drama in the Merchant-Ivory mode, nor is it brutal enough to fall into Dangerous Liasons-style intrigue and depravity.

The Duchess also wants to make a statement on suffrage, and doesn’t mind giving its title character an implausible innocence to the wicked ways of her world to illustrate. I’ll admit up front, I haven’t read Foreman’s book; maybe Spencer truly had no choice about the circumstances of her household, but I have a difficult time believing it. We’ll come back to that.

Where it might best succeed is as a retelling of England’s Prince Charles - Princess Diana - Camilla Parker-Bowles triangle, set far enough in the past that no one can outright accuse the producers of doing so (oops! I think I just did). It’s no small coincidence the publicity makes a point of mentioning Diana Spencer was a direct descendant of Georgiana’s father, the first Earl Spencer.

As the movie opens, Georgiana is among friends on immaculately manicured lawns, indulging a betting habit, backing her future lover in a footrace while indoors, her mother (portrayed by Charlotte Rampling) is busy horsetrading as well, convincing Cavendish of the girl’s likely capacity as a future breeder of Cavendish heirs.

Playing Charles to Knightly’s Diana is Ralph Fiennes, who turns in one of his more understated performances as a man who's clueless to everything but his own needs and wants. He beds his terrified, virginal wife by trying to introduce her to kinks straight out of the gate; barely tolerates her when she fails to produce a son right off the bat; makes a mistress of her live-in BFF; rapes her when she threatens his secure spot as "top"; threatens to divorce, separate her from her children, and ruin Georgiana's lover’s political career if she refuses to cut off the affair and give up custody of its issue - after having previously installed one of his own out-of-wedlock children in the household.

On paper William sounds like a pig; in his time, he may well have been. Fiennes humanizes the character by making it clear Cavendish is only doing what he believes is expected of him. He’s not an evil man, he’s just playing the game he’s been bred to and doesn't get why "G" won't play her part. Only after having flexed his power and gained some understanding of how rigged the game is, does he take his head out of his ass and cut Georgiana some slack.

Georgiana, surprisingly, seems to not be fully aware of the rules. In reaction to the news she’s become engaged to one of the most powerful men in Britain: “He loves me?” she asks her matchmaking mama, who confirms it and encourages the fairy tale. Again, I haven’t read the book, but I’ve just got to call “bullshit” on this one. We’ve heard all about the adage, “lie back and think of England,” too many times to refrain from calling bull on that.

The horribly mismatched odds in this battle of the sexes, which give the story it’s dramatic tension, just aren’t entirely believable - the film's main flaw. In addition to the example above, if Georgiana really wanted William’s mistress out of the house, there would have been plentiful ways to make it happen. What the movie only hints at, history openly acknowledges: Elizabeth Foster was lover to both husband and wife.

The other weak spot is watching Ralph Fiennes act circles around Keira Knightly. She has great charisma and sells her performances, but she’s becoming more and more the female answer to Tom Cruise. She does a great job of expressing what’s put in front of her, but whatever character she plays, it always ends up being Keira Knightly as (insert role description here). The movie is The Duchess, but the character to study is the Duke.

Monday, November 10, 2008

(Almost) Forgotten Music: Killing Joke

This was a huge anthem for alternative (we called it "New Music" then) music fans in the early 1980s. When it became clear the music of our older brothers and sisters' lives was going to retain its top dog position in popular culture, many of us stopped trying to find the compromise between punk/new wave and classic rock, and rejected the latter entirely. In most US cities, you'd have had to turn off your radio and get out on the dance floor to catch this.

FYI, Nirvana totally nicked this guitar riff for "Come As You Are."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Election Day

Just for the heck of it, I invited listeners to tell me about their voting lines this morning.

First to call was Chenelle (sp?) in Hendersonville, who is voting at a church on Center Point Road. Her line has 150-200 people.

Stephanie is an MTSU student who votes in Brentwood, and there were 50 in her line.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

This Is Rock and Roll

I found myself on the Violent Femmes' website and stumbled across a hilarious list of events in the band's career they found worthy of remembering and passing on. Sample:
When the Femmes worked with producer Michael Beinhorn (Chili Peppers, Soundgarden, Soul Asylum, etc.) he threw a temper tantrum because the recording studio refused to provide him with a playpen for his dog who had been pissing all over the sound board.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Movie Review: The Order of Myths

Margaret Brown intended to make a narrative fiction film in her native Mobile, Alabama, and set it in Mardi Gras season; when the time came to get down to business she discovered that the local dramas more than outweighed her own imagination and so it become a documentary. The Order of Myths takes its name from a specific Mardi Gras parade and yet it's even more fitting for the film, a thoughtful examination of the racial and economic segregation of the players and legends of Mobile's Carnival - the oldest such celebration in the US - and how traditions are used both as means and reason for the ongoing separation of the classes.

Mobile has two Mardi Gras celebrations; one for the descendants of its European settlers, one for descendants of African slaves. Order introduces us to the King and Queen of both courts, a handful of other players who make the civic aspects of Carnival happen as planned, and a few from the sidelines with helpful knowledge of Mobile history. Brown's own mother was a Mardi Gras Queen and her grandfather a respected Mobile elder, circumstances which gave her access to places no others have ever been allowed to film, and people who might not otherwise talk to a NY film school graduate.

The majority of the court speak openly of their highly mixed feelings on the segregated nature of the event and its people: the white court, a bastion of wealth, power and privilege, knows it's antiquaited but sees little reason to mess with what works; the black court would like to mix it up a bit more, but they also want the comfort of tradition. Having been to one of the few renowned Carnival cities, it's hard to blame them; there is a civic aspect to Mardi Gras that's never communicated by Richard Simmons' bead-throwing TV appearances and The Order of Myths does a terrific job of demonstrating Mobile's pride in its people and the other side of the coin, the downer aspect - so much of that pride falls on one specific group to the exclusion of others.

The most disturbing moments arrive through the players on the sidelines. A thread of self-inferiotic thought evidenced in some of the statements of the African descendants: the little girl who states the white Mardi Gras is probably better; the black formal train designer whose esteem for praise delivered by her white counterpart seems a tad unhealthy; on the other end an ingratiating train designer declaring to a former, now aged (white) Mardi Gras deb, "there is only one Mardi Gras Queen."

What makes The Order of Myths such a great watch (in addition to the very well-shot HD-to-35mm print) is that Margaret Brown shows all this without condemning anyone and without manipulating the viewers into doing it for her (many of at the showing I attended found a good deal of humor). These are her own roots she's examining and trying to reconcile herself to. She's also trying to get a conversation started. Happens easier when no one's yelling.

Directed by Margaret Brown - 97 minutes. Expect audio from an interview in a few days.

Chris Thile Interview

The on-hiatus mandolin player from Nickel Creek and many other collaborations called to talk about his upcoming Schermerhorn show w/Orchestra Nashville bassist Edgar Meyer, his $250,000 instrument, the Cubs and whatever else was on his multi-track mind.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blue Eyed Blacks

I can't be even remotely unbiased about this one.

Blue Eyes Blacks are my former co-worker and all-around cool guy Jason Moon Wilkins and a cast of acquaintances he's helped out and been helped by. The album is Black Eyed Soul and it has a quiet intensity that mirrors the Nick Drake-Elliot Smith-Leonard Cohen-Vic Chesnutt school of mope-rock Jason's into (so much he named his first child after Smith), without mirroring the mopeyness itself.

Catch some samples here.

Nashville Scene Readers Poll - Yay Us! - And a Minor Rant

Someone brought in a copy of the new issue and Lightning 100 was voted Best Rock Radio Station. Also, we came in at #2 for Best Pop Radio Station and #2 for Best Urban Radio Station. So ... yay us and thanks, Scene readers.

Now, for the rant.

I have to assume the top reason people vote us in for "Best Urban" station is they do it as a joke, related to the fact our studios are in what some call, "the 'hood," at Marathon Village. It may be possible that some people who intend to vote for 101 The Beat maybe miswrite their vote, and/or whomever is tabulating results for the Scene misreads. Some people have speculated to me that Scene readers just don't know what other Urban stations are out there.

I feel badly for the people who bust their asses for ones that don't get a mention because some people think it's funny.

This past Monday morning at 5am another car deliberately followed me from 17th & Jo Johnston to the Marathon Village entrance. I never found out what they wanted, most likely because a sizable Marathon Fitness crew was right outside, out in front and the driver turned around and went back to the direction they were originally going. Thinking benevolently, I'd hope they were hoping I might be a drug dealer.

I just drive through, twice a day. It's not funny to me that there are law-abiding, non-violent citizens who are at risk of similar or worse encounters 24/7 because of economic segregation. No, that's not funny at all.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Today's MySpace Friend Requests, Approved

Int'l - James Harries (pro: "Harris") - something really intriguing here, in a sort of full-throated, dramatic, kind of way. And who doesn't love Pete Yorn hair, hmm? I'd be even more curious to hear what he'd do with time to develop and a recording budget.

For local Lightning, Jennifer Friend - stay away from the Sneaky Peak stuff, but the top two songs are great if you like blue-eyed soul.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ack! He Cursed Me

I just said "nukular" instead of "nuclear" on the air, in a newscast. W's cursed me for posting the trailer, you think?

W - The Trailer

I get the feeling this movie is going to be kinda sorta like the This Is Spinal Tap of politics.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Surrender to Frankenreiter

I'm not a huge DF fan, more what you'd call an "appreciator." This new album is so solid, though, that it's definitely something I'd seek out and play for friends.

Monday, September 29, 2008


This was a blast.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I think I made my last artisan cheese run, for the next several months, last night. Roquefort - $29.99 per lb. Truffle Tremor - $24.99 per. All I got were little wedgies, and geeeeeez ....

Thursday, September 18, 2008

"The Misbegotton"

Right now I'm listening to the new Charlatans CD, You Cross My Path, and from the speakers out comes the New Order song "Blue Monday" - only with different lyrics and without the signature drum program. I have to assume it's an homage of some sort. It's too close to not be.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Off Adventuring ...

I'd been meaning to and meaning to get out somewhere in the woods with Team Green for many a moon, and finally got around to it last weekend on their Pickett State Park trek. Lots of very cool rock shelves out there that I didn't get pics of, because I didn't want to carry my camera all sweaty. Instead, just some shots of what happens when grown-ups get to have the playground all to themselves.

Monday, September 15, 2008

When Did Art Become All About Violence?

Ever since the Coen Brothers, who have been making some of the finest American movies ever seen since 1984, finally won a Best Motion Picture of the Year Oscar at the Academy Awards for the ruthlessly violent No Country for Old Men, I've been bothered - not so much that violence at the box office and pretty much everywhere in pop culture simply exists, but that so much of what is considered art in pop culture has been taken over by the knock-em, sock-em, slash-em promoters. The last time Joel and Ethan Coen brought home Oscar prior to NCFOM, it was for the Fargo screenplay. In between these two violent epics was The Big Lebowski, Oh Brother, Where Are Thou? and a couple others of less repute but no less memorable.

In the decade the Coen brothers burst on the scene most arty fare was directed at women and socially-conscious-types. A Room With a View, Bagdad Cafe (Out of Rosenheim); Wings of Desire, The Gods Must Be Crazy, Das Boot and the Coen brothers' own Raising Arizona were all art-house smashes that audiences flocked to as an antidote to Sylvester Stallone, mindless (if entertaining) comedies, and predictable, Meryl Streep-laden Oscar heavies.

When Quentin Tarantino scored commercially and artistically with Pulp Fiction, everything changed. Nothing against QT or his films, but it feels like Hollywood and others have confused the violence depicted in that movie and others with their underlying themes. Now, even art-house movies have to go "boom" in order to be promoted and I'm relieved to not be the only one to notice and think there's something askew about it.

Paste Magazine takes on the subject in their October issue. I'm not sure when it hits the news-stands but there's a .pdf version online.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

In Honor of the CERN Particle Collider - The Cat Empire

Happy to see I'm not the only person who out-and-out loves "Protons, Neutrons, Electrons":

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Delta Spirit Vids

We managed to shoot a handful; here's "Trashcan" live at NSN:

More here

Monday, September 8, 2008

Don't You Hate It When

You're all hasty and try to take a pic?

Working on getting the vids. Really.

Monday Morning Ramble

Oh jeez, that was good. Talking about last night's Nashville Sunday Night w/Seth Kaufman, Delta Spirit, & Dr. Dog. Later today or tomorrow, there will be video.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tired But Happy

From the Squeeze / Aimee Mann show last night. There are more in the 100 photo gallery.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

1990 Retro Lightning Preview 4

I was looking over a list of world events-type stuff for 1990:

Germany reunited
The Hubble Space Telescope was launched
Nelson Mandela was released from prison
The Soviet Union collapsed
Saddam Hussein mistook US State Dept. apathy for a minor border skirmish to be a green light for a full invasion of Kuwait

You win some, you lose some.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

1990 Retro Lightning Preview 3

What needs to be said about Jane's Addiction?

Southwest Flies to Chicago, Yes?

Some three hours after I moved Black Diamond Heavies up to the top row of my top friends, right next to Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, on MySpace and sent a note asking what time they're going on at Springwater this Friday, I got a note back informing they've snagged the opening gigs for the Seeds Chicago shows.

I plug these guys, not just because their blues is messy the way I like it (uh-huh uh-huh) but because they're busting their asses to get it out in front of people. How many cool bands can anyone name that will play Temple Bar in Dublin, and barbecue joints in the Southern US?

Anyway, that's great news for BDHs and their fans, and anyone who's going to be at those Chicago shows.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

1990 Retro Lightning - Preview 2

Okay, here's nifty. A live version.

Monday, August 25, 2008

1990 Retro Lightning Preview

I'm back in for Fred Buc this Saturday, so we get one more shot at the glory days of the pre-Nirvana "alternative" scene. This was one of the treats - hearing Buckwheat Zydeco team up with Dwight Yoakum. Oh, and isn't that Los Lobos' David Hidalgo on guitar? FUN.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Vote for Me!

My first political ad is right here.

Thanks to Bill Butler

Thursday, August 21, 2008

1984 Retro Lightning - Preview #4

Wanna feel very old?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Retro Lightning - Just FYI

I've been asked where I get my lists from, because sometimes (like the example below) the year doesn't seem to match up. I gather material from a combination of several archived Billboard charts, magazine charts and reviews, and trade tip sheets. Plus anything else that carries verifiable information.

1984 Retro Lightning - Preview #3

And we go to the movies! Young Sean Penn, young Timothy Hutton. Yeah.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Retro Lightning - 1984 Preview Deux

How can we not?

Monday, August 18, 2008

1984 Retro Lightning Preview

Depeche Mode.

My Morning Jacket Pics

From Friday night.

More here. Do a "category search" for My Morning Jacket & you'll find 'em.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Can't Make This Up

Straight from the BBC:
A giant inflatable dog turd brought down a power line after being blown away from a Swiss museum.

The artwork, entitled Complex Shit, was carried 200 metres on the night of 31 July, reportedly breaking a greenhouse window before it landed again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Olympic Eye Candy - Sexist?

A number of bloggers and others are pointing out the inherent sexism of Beach Volleyball at the Olympics, ie, the women players all go on court like this:

While the men are more fully-clothed:

In the interest of fairer play, I give you the Mens swimmers:

And! Let's not forget the Water Polo team:

Monday, August 11, 2008

Attack of the Killer East Nashville Tomatos

I missed out on most of the morning activities as I was busy bringing things back to 1988, but got over in time for the fashion show and some music. Thanks to great weather, this will probably go down as one of the most attended years.

Thee Phantom 5 onstage

Nashville artist Keith Harmon

It just wouldn't be East Nashville without ...

East Nasty represents for the Fashion Show

East Nashville people really do dress like this every day, all day.

Multiple choice: Who owns this hand?

Nashville Rage editor Kristen Whittlesey?
Nashville Scene food writer Kay West?
Lightning 100/Team Green's own Laurel Creech?
Tennessean Social Butterfly Heather Byrd

Attention demographers: East Nashville is getting in the family way ...

... and the Tibetan way

And sometimes it's just plain hot.